Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Network Subdivision: California's Smaller Papers Gripe about State Ad Network and Form Subnetworks

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Network Subdivision: California's Smaller Papers Gripe about State Ad Network and Form Subnetworks

Article excerpt

California's smaller papers gripe about state ad network and form subnetorks.

THE CALIFORNIA Newspaper Publishers Association's advertising network generates $40 million a year in billings, and a group of small-market publishers is taking action to get a bigger piece of that pie.

The publishers, all CNPA members, met in a special round table at the association's annual conference to discuss ways and means of boosting its share. In at least two areas, small dailies and weeklies have banded together to form their own advertising group, independent of CNPA's fast-growing California Newspaper Network (CNN).

In theory and practice, CNN, which offers one-order/one-bill service, serves all CNPA members -- but the smaller publications believe they are not served quite as well as bigger papers.

"Millions of ad dollars are now being placed in CNPA newspapers through CNN, but smaller-market newspapers are only getting a tiny percentage of that money," explained Bill Lynch, editor and CEO of the weekly Sonoma Index-Tribune. "In addition, these newspapers who have rep firms are generally not happy with the results, and the people who don't have rep firms wonder if they need one to reach the 'big boys.'"

The Index-Tribune and five other weeklies or twice-weeklies have taken the matter into their own hands by forming Sonoma County Community Newspaper Network (SCCNN), offering a total circulation of 104,500 in "well-read, well-established community newspapers."

Similarly, 14 dailies, weeklies and TMC products -- with a total circulation of 134,242 in three counties in the Central Valley -- have joined to create Central Valley Newspapers (CVN). The dailies include the Merced Sun-Star, Turlock Journal and Madera Tribune, while among the weeklies are the Chowchilla News, Los Banos Enterprise and Atwater Signal.

Bruce B. Brugmann, editor and publisher of the alternative San Francisco Bay Guardian, said he relies on the advertising network established by the national Association of Alternative Newspapers.

Also at the round table was H.R. Autz, marketing director of Pierson Marketing Inc., which started last February and has grown into the ad and marketing rep for 24 San Francisco Bay area weeklies with an aggregate circulation of 617,000. A former ad director for the Alameda Newspaper Group and the Los Angeles Daily News, Autz said Pierson serves such retailers as Sears, Home Depot, Walgreen's drug stores and Standard Brands.

At the round table, Lynch acknowledged that SCCNN -- with ad sales last year of about $300,000 -- has not yet achieved "huge success."

"Our problem is determining who will make the sale," he said. "Who will make the trip to see the buyer?"

But the small-market publishers expressed strong feeling that CNN deserves at least some of the blame for their shortage of ad dollars.

"We should demand that CNN devote resources to us," argued Arnold York of the Malibu Times. "We're getting passed by."

Lynch and Marty Weybret of the Lodi NewsSentinel said one solution might be for smaller papers to hire a rep firm and initiate a common bulletin board system controlled by CNPA.

Mort Levine, editor of the Milpitas Post and a past president of CNPA, said another role for CNPA could be to become an ad rep for coalitions of small papers with common niches, such as urban weeklies, lifestyle publications or college papers. …

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